The New Face of LinkedIn: What You Need to Know About the Redesign

 Even the most starched-shirt professional can use a new look every now and then. Skinny and wide neckties go in and out of fashion. Hemlines trend up and down. You can be fashionable and professional at the same time.

All of which to say, LinkedIn has started to roll out a substantial redesign. Not everyone has it yet, but it’s coming soon for everyone, and it’s definitely a bid to keep up with the cutting edge of web design.

The redesign cleans up the interface substantially, fully committing to the card-based look the site has been flirting with for the past two years. Icons are simplified and are a closer match to the mobile experience. And some features that were hard to find before are now front-and-center.

Let’s take a quick look around to see what’s new.

#1: New Menu Bar

If you’re still on the old design, your menu bar looks like this:

By contrast, the new design is more compact and more visual. It highlights the sections of the site you’re most likely to visit:

Under that, you’ll see a quick snapshot of your profile – your picture, background, headline, profile and content views.

This sidebar makes it simple to see at-a-glance how much attention your content is getting.

#2: A Notable Notifications Tab

Rejoice! Notifications have finally escaped from their skinny little box. In the new design, notifications is a full-size feed, just like the feed on your home page:

 

Unread notifications are at the top, tinted a subtle gray until you look at them. You don’t have to click through to respond to a notification anymore-you can interact with them right in the feed.

#3: It’s All About Me

Notice “My Profile” is now just “Me.” The new profile features a round photo up top – you’ll need to make sure your square picture has enough of a border to work in the new format.

Background images have changed slightly, too. The recommended size is 1536×768, a little shorter than the old one.

The new design offers easier access to the tools you need to update your profile and interact with your connections. Here’s what LinkedIn Marketing Solutions’ Alex Rynne had to say about the new layout:

“The redesign features a new ‘Me’ tab where you can control and see everything about you – your privacy and setting, who’s viewed your profile, and who’s commenting on your posts.

The new tab, located on the far right at the top navigation, includes a ‘suggested skills’ tab based on what’s most in demand by recruiters. People with at least five skills listed on their LinkedIn profile receive up to 17x more profile views, so it makes a difference.”

My favorite feature in the Me tab is the Activity feed, where you can see your previous posts, likes and comments. Before, if you wanted to repost an article, or share something so you could look at it later… you basically couldn’t. The new feed makes it simple to browse your history, sorted by articles, posts and activity:

#4: Sharing Is Caring

To my marketer’s eye, the most interesting change in the whole redesign is a subtle one. Here’s what the top of my feed used to look like:

And here’s the new one:

See the difference? There’s no extra click for deciding what type of update you want to publish–it’s designed to encourage you to just start typing. Most intriguingly, “write an article” now has pride of place. It’s clear LinkedIn wants you to publish long-form content on the platform.

#5: Search is Simplified

The last big difference you will see is in the Search dialog. If you’re not a premium user but were enjoying the advanced search options, you won’t love this change.

Filtering by first and last name, title, location and keyword have all been streamlined away. There are a few filters left: location, industry, company, language, schools, and level of connection. But the meaty advanced search features-and the ability to save searches-are reserved for Premium and Sales Navigator accounts.

A Professional Facelift

LinkedIn’s new design is definitely easier on the eyes than the previous incarnation. But it’s more than just a pretty new face. Each new tab and feature seems designed to express how LinkedIn hopes you will use the platform. There’s an emphasis on number of profile views and interactions with your content. It’s easier to pick up old comment threads and keep track of your activity. And posts published on LinkedIn are front and center.

While a few of your favorite features may be altered beyond recognition, on the whole the new LinkedIn should make it easier to make connections, track your content performance, and optimize your profile.

Do you have the new design yet? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client. 


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5 Common Challenges All Digital Marketers Face & How to Own Them

Big or small, B2B or B2C there are a core set of challenges that all marketers face. The extremity of these challenges will vary from brand to brand and person to person but undoubtedly exist within every organization.

Within the last few years alone, it now takes 52% more touches to close a deal than it did in the years prior. Yikes! Those aren’t the best odds, and now that marketing is becoming even more responsible for sales (not that that’s a bad thing), the modern marketer is stressed out.

But don’t fret, you’re not alone. The first step to overcoming your obstacles is identifying what they are. Once you know what’s in front of you, it’s much easier to tackle them one piece at a time.

Below are 5 common challenges that every marketer faces (at one point or another) as well as some sage advice for how to approach them head on.

#1 – Time

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, but some days feel like they’re made of mere minutes, not hours. You might start a day with five things on your list and end it with ten. And let me tell you from experience, that’s no way to live!

Helpful Tip: Time can be a big challenge, but there are some simple ways to manage time more effectively. First of all, get your big rocks out of the way first thing in the morning. If you don’t, they will loom over you like a dark cloud all day long and can actually hinder productivity.

#2 – Budget

A pain that we are all familiar with is that when budgets need to be cut, marketing is often the first to go. Despite its effectiveness, marketing is still seen as a cost center, not a means of profit for an organization. But don’t fret, lack of (or reduced) budget does not determine the success of your marketing program.

Helpful Tip: Creativity doesn’t cost a thing. When budgets are cut you have two options: 1) wallow and worry about how you’ll get everything accomplished 2) find creative ways to push boundaries and show success.

#3 – Resources

Ok, I know…“resources” is such an all encompassing topic. A lack of resources can refer to internal staff, external staff or funds. However, the problem is the same; you don’t have enough manpower to do the job that needs to be done.

Helpful Tip: If you’re experiencing a lack in resources you can repurpose marketing content to get more bang for your buck, incorporate influencers to add credibility (and create more content) or hire an agency to help you reach your marketing goals.

#4 – Innovation

It can be incredibly frustrating to see other marketers around you coming up with excellent ideas while you’re stuck in a marketing rut. But instead of spending time worrying about what everyone else is doing, take time to find your own inspiration.

Helpful Tip: The first step to innovation is thinking outside the norm. Spend time researching, put all ideas (even bad ones) down on paper and don’t limit yourself. Some of the best ideas are may seem crazy at first, but after developing further have a glimmer of brilliance.

#5 – Impact

Improving the impact of marketing programs is top of mind for all marketers (no exceptions). Customers are distracted and overwhelmed which means that it’s that much harder to get their attention.

Helpful Tip: Take an inventory of all the marketing “activities” that you have planned and commit to focusing only on those that are likely to have the biggest impact on your end goal.

Identify Challenges & Face Them Head-On

You’re not alone in experiencing the common challenges above. However, what separates good marketers from great marketers is their ability to view these challenges as an opportunity, not a setback.

What is your best advice for marketers to crush the challenges above?


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Online Marketing News: The New Influence, Facebook Trend Overhaul, Snapchat TV Style

The Future of Influencer Marketing Research Report 2017

TopRank Marketing and Traackr, in partnership with Altimeter, released a brand new report this week. The goal of this report was to clarify the definition and meaning of influencer marketing and provide solid future direction to influencer marketing programs through research. For example, 71% of marketers said their influencer marketing programs are strategic or highly strategic, but account for less than 10% of total marketing budget. As Lee said in his blog post: “Clearly, enterprise companies need to put their money where their strategy is.” Online Marketing Blog.

Facebook Overhauls Trending and Will Now Show the Same Topics to Everyone

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it won’t be personalizing their list of trending topics going forward, meaning that everybody will see the same stories in Facebook’s Trending section without consideration given to location. This is done in an effort to help users avoid missing important news. Entrepreneur

Snapchat Offers to Bill Brands for Ads Based on TV-Style Ratings From Nielsen

Ad Age reports: “On Tuesday, [Snapchat] confirmed it would let brands plan and pay for ad campaigns using Nielsen’s digital ratings. It’s a small tweak to the ad offering, but comes as Snapchat looks to show that its ads are on par with its digital rivals and traditional television.” Ad Age

Google Developing Robust Mobile Analytics for YouTube

Google is developing a cloud-based measurement solution for YouTube, emphasizing more detailed, cross-device analytics. This means advertisers will now have more detailed insights across devices. Additionally, YouTube will be able to use Google account activity data to influence which users see which ads, and will be enabling YouTube customer match. SocialTimes

Instagram Confirms Live-Streaming Coming to All Users This Week

On Tuesday, Instagram confirmed that their new live-streaming option will roll out this week. According to Instagram, they’re “excited to share that live video on Instagram Stories – a new way to connect with your friends and followers right now – will be rolling out to our entire global community over the next week.” Social Media Today

Who Searches on Bing, and Why They’re Important for Marketers [Infographic]

Bing has grown a great deal since their debut in 2009 — the Bing Network powers searches on Yahoo, Amazon and others. But who is using the Bing network, and why should Marketers care? This infographic gives more details. MarketingProfs

Publishers Made Only 14 Percent of Revenue from Distributed Content

A new report from Digital Content Next, the premium publishers’ trade group, shows that publishers are only making 14 percent of their revenue from distributing their content on third party platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Google AMP and more. Digiday

Google’s 2016 Bad Ads Report: 1.7 Billion Ads Removed, Including Fake News Ads

Search Engine Land reports: “In its annual Bad Ads report, Google says it took down more than double the number of ads in 2016 that it did in 2015 by removing 1.7 billion ads, compared to the 780 million removed in 2015.” Search Engine Land

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more marketing news. If you have something to share, please do so in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: The New Influence, Facebook Trend Overhaul, Snapchat TV Style appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Online Marketing News: Influence 2.0, Facebook Trending Overhaul and Snapchat TV Style

Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influencer Marketing Research Report 2017

TopRank Marketing and Traackr, in partnership with Altimeter, released a brand new report this week. The goal of this report was to clarify the definition and meaning of influencer marketing and provide solid future direction to influencer marketing programs through research. For example, 71% of marketers said their influencer marketing programs are strategic or highly strategic, but account for less than 10% of total marketing budget. As Lee said in his blog post: “Clearly, enterprise companies need to put their money where their strategy is.” Online Marketing Blog.

Facebook Overhauls Trending and Will Now Show the Same Topics to Everyone

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it won’t be personalizing their list of trending topics going forward, meaning that everybody will see the same stories in Facebook’s Trending section without consideration given to location. This is done in an effort to help users avoid missing important news. Entrepreneur

Snapchat Offers to Bill Brands for Ads Based on TV-Style Ratings From Nielsen

Ad Age reports: “On Tuesday, [Snapchat] confirmed it would let brands plan and pay for ad campaigns using Nielsen’s digital ratings. It’s a small tweak to the ad offering, but comes as Snapchat looks to show that its ads are on par with its digital rivals and traditional television.” Ad Age

Google Developing Robust Mobile Analytics for YouTube

Google is developing a cloud-based measurement solution for YouTube, emphasizing more detailed, cross-device analytics. This means advertisers will now have more detailed insights across devices. Additionally, YouTube will be able to use Google account activity data to influence which users see which ads, and will be enabling YouTube customer match. SocialTimes

Instagram Confirms Live-Streaming Coming to All Users This Week

On Tuesday, Instagram confirmed that their new live-streaming option will roll out this week. According to Instagram, they’re “excited to share that live video on Instagram Stories – a new way to connect with your friends and followers right now – will be rolling out to our entire global community over the next week.” Social Media Today

Who Searches on Bing, and Why They’re Important for Marketers [Infographic]

Bing has grown a great deal since their debut in 2009 — the Bing Network powers searches on Yahoo, Amazon and others. But who is using the Bing network, and why should Marketers care? This infographic gives more details. MarketingProfs

Publishers Made Only 14 Percent of Revenue from Distributed Content

A new report from Digital Content Next, the premium publishers’ trade group, shows that publishers are only making 14 percent of their revenue from distributing their content on third party platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Google AMP and more. Digiday

Google’s 2016 Bad Ads Report: 1.7 Billion Ads Removed, Including Fake News Ads

Search Engine Land reports: “In its annual Bad Ads report, Google says it took down more than double the number of ads in 2016 that it did in 2015 by removing 1.7 billion ads, compared to the 780 million removed in 2015.” Search Engine Land

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more marketing news. If you have something to share, please do so in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: Influence 2.0, Facebook Trending Overhaul and Snapchat TV Style appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influencer Marketing Research Report 2017

Future of Influencer Marketing

influencer marketing 2.0

What does “influencer marketing” mean to you?

Are you thinking of celebrities posting product photos to Instagram? Or having a famous YouTuber run a contest for a meet and greet at an event? Why not send products to bloggers in the hopes that they’ll do a review and say nice things?

Surely that’s not all enterprise marketers think of when it comes to the possible outcomes with influencer relationships.

The promise of brands collaborating or outright paying influential individuals to create content that lifts the brand’s credibility and reach to sell more products is something that companies of all sizes have been hot on – especially in the past 12 months.

With a groundswell of interest, there are many divergent interpretations of what influencer marketing really means.

With so many different opinions, best practices and even definitions, we set out with influencer marketing platform Traackr to bring clarity and future direction by conducting research into the practice for large, enterprise organizations.

We also engaged my pal and respected futurist, author and analyst, Brian Solis of Altimeter Group to conduct an analysis of that research and write a report outlining what is working, what isn’t and future trends.

Download the Influencer Marketing Report

The result is something I am very proud to be a part of.  Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.

In this elegantly designed report, Brian outlines an argument for evolving influencer marketing to influencer relations, or Influence 2.0.  Brands need to evolve their view of influencer marketing from short term transactional engagements to a more strategic and holistic view that emphasizes long term influencer relationships.

He also discusses the digital transformation of marketing, the importance for brands to humanize their marketing and the role of influence with customer experience. Of course he covers the role of content within influencer marketing and makes predictions for the future too.

While this report is geared towards senior enterprise level marketers, it also includes 10 steps for setting the foundation of an Influence 2.0 approach that I think practitioners at companies of all sizes will find valuable.

The icing on the cake to this report are the quotes and case studies from marketing influencers, many of which are clients of our agency, that I respect greatly including: Ted Rubin, Amanda Duncan (Microsoft), Dr. Konstanze Brown (Dell), Amisha Gandhi (SAP), Ann Handley (MarketingProfs), Jon Miller (Engagio), Jason Miller (LinkedIn) and more.

Working on this project with the teams at Traackr and Altimeter has been an incredibly satisfying journey as we surveyed over 100 enterprise level marketers and brand strategists from companies including Microsoft, American Express and 3M.

What we found is compelling and cause for even more optimism around influencer marketing – especially for those brands that approach the practice strategically, holistically and with the right resources.

Here are 7 of the key trends in the report that will help point marketers in the right direction for realizing true ROI and business impact in 2017

1. 71% of marketers say their influencer marketing programs are strategic or highly strategic. 

At the same time, on average, enterprise companies are allocating only a 10% share of marketing budget to influencer marketing. In fact, 50% of the CMOs we surveyed allocate less than $100,000 annually.

Clearly, enterprise companies need to put their money where their strategy is.

The good news is that 55% of marketers surveyed plan to spend more on influencer marketing in the coming year and for those that spend more than $250,000 annually, that number jumps to 67% and even higher to 77% for those brands using influencer marketing technology.

2. 67% of marketers want to drive lead generation through the use of influencer marketing. 

Beyond improving brand advocacy, awareness and reaching new audiences, the majority of marketers are also focused on improving leads and sales conversion (74%) as a result of working with industry influencers. Thinking holistically, influence plays a role throughout the customer lifecycle and in all relationship-drive brand communications. The movement towards brands incorporating influencers in content beyond marketing to sales, customer service, recruiting and PR is gaining momentum.

Influencer Marketing Goals

3. 80% of marketers rate content marketing as most impacted by influencer marketing. 

In discussions about the ROI of brand relationships with influencers, there’s simply no better match than content collaboration for creating measurable, impactful business outcomes. The research supports this with content being rated highest in impact from influencer marketing along with social media marketing and media relations.

4. 43% of marketers are experimenting with influencer marketing. 

It is still early days for influencer marketing within companies with such a large number still experimenting. 28% of marketers rate the maturity of their influencer marketing program as campaign driven and 24% are implementing ongoing programs. As brands mature their ability and relationships with influencer marketing, I think the trend will change significantly towards the majority of companies implementing always on, ongoing programs.

5. 48% of B2C influencer marketing programs are ongoing. 

This is in contrast to only 11% of B2B companies running ongoing influencer marketing programs. With 80% of marketers rating content so important in terms of influencer marketing impact and the importance of content for longer B2B sales journeys, I think we’ll see explosive growth of ongoing programs in the B2B space.

6. Marketing owns influencer marketing (70%) but PR engages with influencers most often (70%). 

There is, what seems, an eternal battle between who owns influencer marketing and rather than a turf war, I think what we’ll see more of is convergence between marketing and PR. The same influencers could be engaged by multiple departments within an organization beyond marketing and PR, so a more holistic and strategic view along with the right technology for management of those influencer relationships will be essential.

7. 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years. 

Currently, only 5% of marketers rate the maturity of their influencer marketing program as integrated, so the forward looking optimism for the next 3 years towards integration should be a strong signal for the direction influencer marketing is going.

In the Influence 2.0 model, influencers can play a role in each moment of truth during the customer journey through content, engagement and community. A strategic and always on approach to influence enables true customer centricity by placing customer experience at the center of an enterprise business strategy. It is by engaging influencers in authentic, long-term relationships and creating value within the relationships between influencers and their communities, that CMOs can impact sales, satisfaction, retention and overall customer experience. This report dives deep into each of these areas and represents a real evolution of the influencer marketing practice. 

A big thanks to Delphine Reynaud and the team at Traackr for all their hard work on this research project and report from the planning to the initial analysis to the beautiful design. Also, a big thanks goes to Brian Solis for his insight and intelligence around the future of influencer relations – Influence 2.0.

You can download the full Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing report here.

If you need help developing your influencer marketing strategy, finding the right influencers and integrating influencers with your digital marketing mix, check out TopRank Marketing influencer content services here.

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How to Create Best Answer Content: 6 Inspiring Examples

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the expression “content shock,” coined by marketing expert Mark Schaefer.

With immense respect, I have to admit: I don’t believe in it.

The idea that there’s so much content out there, people are tired of content altogether? That no one’s giving new content a chance? That it’s too hard to get new content seen?

Not buying it.

I think what’s happening is simply this: People don’t want “content.”

They want answers to questions. They want a few minutes of entertainment. They want to learn something new. They want what they were searching for in the first place.

To reach our audience, we need to stop creating content and start producing the best answer to their queries.  Companies that adopt this content marketing strategy tend to top search engine rankings (Top…rankings…there’s an agency name in there somewhere, I can feel it).

It’s easy to find examples of what Lee Odden refers to as “best answer content.” Just go to your friendly neighborhood search engine, enter a query, and browse the first few results. With few exceptions, you will see content that is:

  1. Addressed to a Specific Audience
  2. Addressed to a Specific Query
  3. Substantial
  4. Comprehensive, Addressing Complimentary Queries and Crosslinking
  5. Not Blatantly Promotional

At TopRank Marketing, we call this type of content a “Power Page.” It’s designed to not only top the rankings, but inspire longer time-on-page, lower bounce rates, and direct readers deeper into the site with solid next steps.

Here are a few of my favorite Power Pages. Some are from our clients, some I found at the top of my search results.

#1: A Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Graph of Email Opens Over Time

Nobody beats Neil Patel and his crew at KISSmetrics for sheer volume of best-answer content. This 2,000+ word monster is ranked in the top three on Google for “How to Do Email Marketing.”

It’s easy to see why. Author Nathan Hangen walks the reader through every aspect of creating an email marketing campaign, including tangential topics like how to put together a newsletter and how to write a compelling CTA.

This piece’s search engine ranking is a clear indication that great content is its own SEO. There’s no keyword stuffing in the first paragraph, no awkwardly-shoehorned-in links. It’s just great, valuable, thorough content.

To my eye, the only thing lacking here is a navigational element. A sidebar with links to the headers would make it even easier for people to find what they’re looking for.

#2: 7 Questions Every B2B Content Marketing Strategy Should Answer

B2B Marketing Questions

This page from client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions looks like a mild-mannered blog post, but it’s secretly an organic search powerhouse. Most blog content has a limited life span for search potential. Blog posts generally get shared in the first 2-3 days, then the Internet’s collective consciousness moves on to the next new thing.

By contrast, this post was designed to be evergreen. It addresses crucial concerns marketers have about B2B content marketing strategy, thoroughly answering each and including links to further reading. Many of these links are next-steps to gated content, which add value while also capturing leads.

#3: 100 Best Paleo Diet Recipes of All Time

100 Best Paleo Recipes Graphic

Not every Power Page has to be a 2,000 word original piece of content created from scratch. This page from Paleo Grubs ranks highly for “best paleo recipes,” and is at heart, a roundup of the site’s previously-published recipes, with a few external links for good measure. A little repurposing, a little curation, a little new content for the blurb on each recipe, and voila: An evergreen resource.

This page not only has immediate value for a reader, it has lasting value. They’re bound to spend several minutes browsing, then bookmark the page for future reference.

Notice the CTA at the top left, and the continued offers throughout as you scroll. They’re never intrusive, but they’re highly visible just the same.

#4: The Future of Diagnostic Imaging

This Power Page from McKesson’s Medical Imaging Talk Blog is another permutation of what best-answer content can be. It serves as a topics page, rounding up blogs on medical imaging in several different categories. But it also features commentary on each of the categories, a live Twitter feed, polls and links to gated content.

The result is a dynamic page worth bookmarking, where content is continually refreshed while the anchor page remains the same. A Power Page like this can be a portal to the rest of your blog, selecting out a sub-audience by topic and showing them only your most relevant content.

#5: The Best Hiking Boots for Men

 Row of Hiking Boots in the Snow

Everything about this page from Outdoor Gear Lab is above and beyond the call of duty. There’s no wonder it ranks consistently at the top for “Best hiking boots.” Notice how it starts with “What is the best men’s hiking boot?” What a great way to pull in a likely keyword query. That little SEO flourish is genius, but it’s this page’s comprehensive content that makes it unbeatable.

Note the navigational tabs on the top-you can immediately see there’s a great deal of content here and that it’s well-organized. That kind of information right up front is likely to keep readers on the page exploring. Not only that, the ability to jump right into the information they’re looking for will keep bounce rates low.

This page is packed with valuable information for a prospective hiker, presented in a simple but attractive format. Bonus points for the extensive use of home-grown visuals-there’s not a stock photo in sight.

6. Account Based Marketing Resources: Definitions, Tactics, Tips & Strategy

Archer Taking Aim

Predictive marketing platform Everstring sought to create a one-stop shop for account based marketing with this Power Page. They began with one of the most-searched queries for this relatively new term: “What Is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?” That query is the start of a deep dive into every relevant aspect of ABM, from getting started to refining tactics.

The organization of this page is exceptional; it’s definitely optimized for ease of reading. Big, bold headers lead to short paragraphs with bulleted points of interest. And it includes rich media in the form of embedded SlideShares, which add value, visual interest, and can increase time on page.

Don’t Be The Ocean. Be the Lighthouse.

Nobody wants more “content.” Your audience is looking for a guiding light, not another drop in the bucket. Create best answer content-data-based, comprehensive, valuable-and let it be a beacon to lead weary sailors to your shore.

To learn more about how TopRank Marketing creates exceptional content, check out our content marketing service page.

Disclosure: LinkedIn, Everstring and McKesson are TopRank Marketing clients. 

The post How to Create Best Answer Content: 6 Inspiring Examples appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

The B2B Buying Disconnect: 5 Opportunities for Increasing Influence with Technology Buyers

Thanks to the internet, social media and mobile technologies, buyer’s are more self-directed than ever before, using these tools to conduct independent research that informs important purchasing decisions for themselves and the companies they work for.

However when it comes to B2B buyers, specifically those looking to purchase tools and software from technology vendors, while independent research is a major trend, 60% say their vendor is an influential part of the purchasing process, according to TrustRadius‘ new report, The B2B Buying Disconnect.

Of course, that’s not the whole story. While technology vendors-namely their marketing and sales teams-play an undeniably important role in the purchasing process, they may be missing the mark or leaving opportunities on the table by focusing on the wrong things. And that’s precisely what TrustRadius’ study aimed to uncover.

Billed as a landmark study, TrustRadius surveyed more than 600 technology buyers and vendors with the goal of identifying key areas of alignment and disconnect, and unearth opportunities for vendors to increase their influence in the purchasing process.

“Buyers are looking for a balanced, relevant and realistic view of products,” TrustRadius CEO Vinay Bhagat said in a report press release. “When vendors proactively connect buyers with content providing that view, they can increase their influence in the purchasing process.”

Below we dive into some more interesting insights from the report, and the opportunities that go along with them, so you can increase influence and build more trust with your buyers.

#1 – Buyers want hands-on experience with the product before committing.

According to the report, product demos are the most helpful resource for buyers and free trials are the most trustworthy sources of information.

B2B Buying Disconnect - Information Source

“Buyers recognize that direct experience with a product is the best way to evaluate it,” the report stated. “Note that in qualitative responses, buyers especially liked demos that were personalized for their situation or use case. Conversely, they questioned the value of demos that felt biased, rehearsed, or too general.”

The opportunity: Take steps to customize and personalize the demo and trial experience. This will give buyers the experience and information they need to determine if your product is the best fit for their needs.

#2 – Existing customers are an untapped resource.

According to the report, nearly half of the buyers surveyed were product promoters, giving a product they’re using a 9 or 10 on the satisfaction scale, and 91% planning to renew. In addition, 42% have independently recommended the product directly to a peer or colleague. However, of those who recommended the product, just 30% provided an official reference, testimonial or case study for the vendor.

The opportunity: Leverage your existing base of happy customers by encouraging their participation in testimonials and case studies, as well as being a reference contact for other prospects. These content resources may take more effort and time to create, but they’ll be more useful and effective.

In addition, use customer feedback to inform your product strategy and improvements, as well as identify new prospects, and retention and upsell opportunities.

#3 – Buyers find “marketing collateral” unhelpful.

Vendors share a lot of content, referred to as marketing collateral in the report, but the type of content they’re sharing is often missing the mark with buyers.

According to the report: “More than half of vendors produce and share each of the following types of marketing collateral: blogs (85%), white papers (83%), videos (78%), infographics (63%), and ebooks (56%). Aside from videos, they are also the least challenging to produce or provide. Yet vendors identified these five content types as the least effective at convincing prospects.”

Unsurprisingly, for buyers, marketing collateral was one of the least trustworthy and helpful information resources, specifically noting that this content seemed like it was aimed at converting them into leads rather than providing helpful information.

The opportunity: Stop creating fluffy, easy content and strive to create content that allows you to be the best answer for your buyers. Be real, be honest and be transparent, and provide a range of different resources that paint a realistic view of your product.

#4 – Third-party validation can be ultra powerful.

After product demos and vendor-provided customer evidence, third-party resources such as analyst reviews and user reviews are the next most effective content types, according to the report.

“This disconnect stands out as a missed opportunity for vendors, since buyers find third-party validation fairly helpful and trustworthy. In particular, third-party reviews are unique in that they are the only form of customer evidence not controlled by the vendor. Buyers said they were more helpful as well as more trustworthy than vendor-provided references, and vendors themselves said they were slightly easier to provide than customer references.”

The opportunity: Encourage your customers to review your product and service on reputable third-party review sites. In addition, consider reaching out to relevant, leading industry publications or thought leaders, and ask them to demo and review your product. If you’re confident in your products capabilities and benefits, as well as aware of its limitations, the insights shared in third-party reviews will better inform your prospects, showcase what you offer and give you an opportunity to improve your product offerings.

#5 – Strategic vendors have more influence.

Most buyers described vendors as a necessary and practical resource, rather than a strategic partner. But for those who vendors that do play a strategic role, 89% of buyers said they were somewhat or very influential in their purchasing decision.

According to the report: “Buyers who described a strategic role mentioned activities such as on-site visits, extended trials, demos with real data, customization options, and demonstrating ROI. They also highlighted help with convincing stakeholders and positive “non-salesy” interactions with vendor representatives.”

The opportunity: Show your true value by aligning your key internal stakeholders, and sales and marketing departments, and designing a nurture strategy that provides a personalized customer experience across digital, print and people-facing channels.

Want More Insights?

Read the full report here.

What steps are you taking to better understand your B2B buyer’s journey, and the content that is the most relevant and useful to them? Tell us in the comments section below.


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The B2B Buying Disconnect: 5 Opportunities for Increasing Influence with Technology Buyers | http://www.toprankblog.com

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10 B2C Brands Crushing it with Instagram Video Content in 2017

The writing on the wall became very apparent last year: 2017 would be the year of video. In almost every marketing predictions post for 2017, video was highlighted as an area that marketers need to incorporate in order to remain competitive.

Video offers a great format for telling your story (or more importantly, the story of your customers) and connecting with your target audience. In 2016, eMarketer found that over 60% of brands planned on investing more in video in the next 12 months.

That means, competition for audience eyes will only get more competitive as brands begin to figure out what video mix works best for their marketing. Unfortunately, finding the right style and type of video for your brand can often be the toughest step.

2017 has just begun and there are already brands that are crushing it with video content and Instagram is one place to start. Below we’re going to dive into how 10 B2C brands are winning with 30-60 second video content on Instagram.

Oreo

Total Followers: 2.1 Million

Oreo has made strides in real-time marketing starting with their infamous approach to the Super Bowl power outage. On their Instagram, you’ll find a delightful mix of Oreos “in the wild” and content focused on classic favorites, as well as new products. In the video below, Oreo asks viewers to “slip into something more elegant” with their new thin cookies.

Introducing new Chocolate ?#?OreoThins. Slip into something a little more elegant.

A video posted by OREO (@oreo) on Jul 13, 2016 at 7:27am PDT

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RedBull

Total Followers: 6.4 Million

RedBull is a brand that is all about adventure and the lives of their super fans. Much of their content is regrams from other profiles as a way to showcase and feature other Instagram’ers. One of my favorite videos that they have published this year is of an adventure loving influencer that takes an exhilarating (albeit short) ride on a rollercoaster down a mountain.

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Nutella

Total Followers: 1.2 Million

Nutella has a very fun and delicious Instagram profile. On it you’ll find different ways to spread Nutella on all of your favorite foods. I particularly enjoy their breakfast videos that showcase different ideas for making Nutella part of a balanced breakfast. They also encourage UGC by using the hashtag #SpreadYourHappy.

Stack breakfast with something the whole family will love. #SpreadTheHappy

A video posted by Nutella (@nutella) on Jan 11, 2017 at 8:29am PST

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Stitch Fix

Total Followers: 472,000

Stitch Fix is hands down one of my favorite finds within the past two years. Their approach to styling encourages you to step outside of your normal style and experiment with new looks. As part of a style challenge that they’re running on social channels, Stitch Fix is encouraging their customers to upload their favorite looks with videos like the one below to win a $1,000 prize!

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Nike

Total Followers: 68.7 Million

Nike is one of those iconic brands that seems to create powerful campaigns, no matter what channel they’re on. This video in particular features professional runners and an olympian in a way that showcases the product, without making it seem like Nike is trying to sell you something (other than an awesome experience).

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Jimmy Choo

Total Followers: 5.7 Million

Jimmy Choo is known for their decade spanning high-fashion. What is great about the videos on their Instagram channel is that the products truly look like a piece of art. Their approach makes it easy to consider their fashion an investment versus a splurge and after just one video, I was searching to see how I too could own some Jimmy Choo.

Discover the exclusive film that brings the #Women’s #SS17 collection to life on our YouTube channel.

A video posted by Jimmy Choo (@jimmychoo) on Jan 13, 2017 at 9:02am PST

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Apple Music

Total Followers: 1.8 Million

Apple Music has a great mix of everything from up-and-coming artists to new tracks from your favorite bands. In particular, their exclusive interview snippets from some of today’s top musicians is a great way to generate excitement and keep people coming back for more.

Talking new album, touring and more. Check @teddysphotos & @zanelowe only on @beats1official.

A video posted by Apple Music (@applemusic) on Jan 19, 2017 at 1:42pm PST

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Amazon

Total Followers: 782,000

Amazon’s Instagram profile is funny, clever and delightful. Each time I visit there is something that warms my heart or makes me giggle. This video in particular gives viewers all the feels. It’s a throwback to the millionth (yes you read that right) banana that they gave away free of charge.

#TBT to when we gave out our 1 millionth banana! ???

A video posted by Amazon (@amazon) on Jan 19, 2017 at 10:36am PST

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Life Time Fitness

Total Followers: 48,200

Life Time Fitness offers a serene and spa like atmosphere in their gyms located throughout the United States. As a long-time member, I have found their social media content to be incredibly motivating. Sort of like that workout pal that keeps you motivated and offers support, even when you’re ready to throw those resolutions out the window.

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Gerber

Total Followers: 167,000

Gerber’s Instagram is exactly what you might expect, pictures and videos of beautiful babies. Gerber is currently on the hunt for their 2017 Spokesbaby and shared video snippets from their 2016 winner which are almost too cute to stand.

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Go On, Give Video A Try

As these examples show, there are a multitude of options for incorporating video into your content marketing strategy. Everything from motion graphic videos, to stills or interaction with customers all present a great opportunity to begin testing video for your brand.

If you’re interested in learning more about TopRank Marketing’s motion graphic video capabilities and how they can help level up your video marketing, contact us today!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |

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Online Marketing News: Millennials Love UGC, Voice Search and Goodbye Vine

How Millennials and Baby Boomers Consume User-Generated Content [Infographic]

47% of millennials trust user-generated content, vs. 36% of their baby boomer counterparts. However, each generation shared a relative distrust of content created by brands. This infographic shows the generation gap of UGC. HubSpot

Survey: 60 percent of voice users want more answers and fewer search results

People who use voice search — the majority of whom prefer to do so in private vs. public — use it because it’s fast, doesn’t require reading, and gives you fewer answers to sort through. What does voice search mean for the future of search marketing? Search Engine Land

What Content Creators Need to Know About Twitter Relaunching Vine as Vine Camera

On January 18th, Twitter officially shut down Vine. In its place, Twitter launched Vine Camera, an app that can be used in place of Vine with similar features that works with Twitter. Good news — Vine users can still access their videos from Vine, but the comments and likes will be gone. AdWeek

Facebook Continues to Evolve Facebook Live, Announces New Tools

Facebook live has announced the release of several new tools for the video streaming service: Permissions to go live as a page, video insights for profiles, video permalinks for pages and cross promotion opportunities for previously recorded live videos. Social Media Today

86% of U.S. Adults Aged 18-29 Are Social Media Users (Report)

69% of adults in the US use social media. 86% of adults between 18 and 29 use social media, 80% of adults aged 30-49 use social media, and that number falls for 64% for adults aged 50-64. The lowest rate of adoption, perhaps unsurprisingly, belongs to the 65+ crowd, with only 34% using social media. SocialTimes

Introducing ad groups for more control over your Pinterest campaigns

Pinterest reports: Starting this month, we’re rolling out an update to the way your Pinterest ad campaigns are structured. Previously, Pinterest ad campaigns had two elements: the campaign itself and the Promoted Pins within it. We’re upgrading this structure to include ad groups.” Pinterest

Will Artificial Intelligence Have a Major Impact on B2B Marketing?

Some 80% of B2B marketing executives say AI will have a significant impact on their marketing efforts in the next five years, but most admit that they do not have a firm understanding of artificial intelligence technology. MarketingProfs

Publishers see short-form video views on Facebook cut in half

Digiday reports: Publishers are finding short-form video viewing figures on Facebook have plummeted as more content creators battle for space in the news feed. Over six months ago a well-performing video from The Sun would fetch 250,000 views; now it’s lucky to get over 100,000.” Digiday

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. Have something to share? Sound off in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: Millennials Love UGC, Voice Search and Goodbye Vine appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Would You Rather: 6 Ways to Tell if Your Digital Marketing Agency is the Right Fit

Today’s increasingly competitive landscape requires that marketers focus on activities that will have the biggest impact in order to capture and keep the attention of potential customers. With over 200 million people utilizing ad blocking technology, it’s clear that an integrated digital marketing strategy has to be implemented in order to reach target customers.

To develop and execute a successful marketing program, many brands large and small  look to digital marketing agencies to help guide their strategy and execution to maximize the impact of their efforts. However, as most of you have discovered at some point, those agency relationships don’t always work out as you anticipate. Once the wooing stage has passed, you may find that you have more work and results aren’t meeting expectations.

Part of the issue is that you may not be exactly sure what you’re looking for in an agency partner. To help you on this journey, we’ve outlined some key characteristics that you should look for in an agency partner, as well as a way for you to select what preferences are most important to you. We all know the “Would you Rather” game where as hard as it may be, you have to pick one option that stands out to you the most. There are no right or wrong answers, simply your preferences that can be used to determine if your agency is meeting your needs.

#1 – Integrity

An essential part of any business (or personal) relationship is that it is built on a foundation of trust. A lack of trust makes for a shaky foundation that lead to miscommunication and ultimately end the relationship.

You have to expect that your agency will share the good news, and the tough news with you in a way that helps you make decisions to evolve your approach to digital marketing. As it relates to your agency relationship, which situation would you prefer?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

#2 – Stellar Communication

Good communication isn’t just based on frequency, it’s also the type of communication that can have an impact (positively or negatively) on your relationship.

We have found that each of our clients will have a slightly different preference for how, when and what we communicate but at the core it’s all the same: make sure that all essential information is shared in a timely manner. What is your communication preference?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

#3 – Understanding

Time needs to be invested by your agency  in order to understand your marketing needs, preferences, brand voice and more. Additionally, there will be times that you’re working under a series of tight deadlines, spending time in meetings or are otherwise preoccupied. And it’s important that your agency be understanding of these different factors and work with you to help make sure things stay on track.

In working with different agencies, you may find that some strictly stay on course with the  timeline while others want to experiment based on the overall performance of the program. Which is more important to you?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

#4 – Creativity

There are so many opportunities to be creative with your marketing, no matter what industry you’re in. Everything from marketing strategy to content direction and asset design all play a part in the creativity of a program.

Because of the sheer amount of competition for the attention of your customers, finding creative ways to stand-out in a sea of brands is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. When it comes to creativity, what is your preference?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

#5 – Focus on Results

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised! In the same way that you as marketers are held to a series of goals and business objectives to show success, your agency should be held at the same (or a higher) standard.

While it’s true that many factors will impact the success of your marketing and there will be times where results ebb and flow, a steady focus on results and the ability to correct the course when needed is incredibly important. When you look at the nature of your business and how you’d like to see your marketing perform, which situation below is more attractive?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

#6 – Striving for Excellence

Working with an agency that constantly strives to innovate and get you the most bang for your marketing buck might not be a fit for everyone. What? How could that be?

When you work with an agency partner that strives for excellence, that means that they will likely push boundaries and the status quo which is sometimes out of your comfort zone. While these partners should absolutely maintain professionalism at all times, there may be some difficult conversations that you need to have. In the grand scheme of things, what does excellence mean to you?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Would You Rather…

My hope is that you may have learned something about your marketing preferences that you didn’t know before. The next step in your journey is to assess your current solution and see if your agency is helping you reach your goals, or not hitting the mark.

If you find that your current digital marketing agency is not aligned with your needs, we’d love to chat! Contact TopRank Marketing today for a consultation about your marketing priorities.

 


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